Friday, October 29, 2010

Project Pegasus: Battlin' Babes on the Loose!

Marvel Two in One #56 (Oct. 1979)
"The Deadlier of the Species!"
Writers: Mark Gruenwald and Ralph Macchio

Artists: George Perez and Gene Day

Karen: This is part 4 of our look at the Project: Pegasus storyline, and this issue focuses on Thundra. Introduced back in Fantastic Four #129, Thundra is a warrior woman from an alternate future where society was divided along genders. Her people, the "Femizons" had genetically enhanced Thundra, granting her incredible strength. Originally she traveled to our time to battle Ben, whom the Femizons believed to be the strongest man of all time. They did fight, again and again, and Thundra became interested in Ben romantically, although this was never reciprocated by Ben.

Karen:We also have new artists starting with this issue. George Perez and Gene Day take over from John Byrne and Joe Sinnott, and they do an outstanding job. So often second or third tier books like MTIO would suffer from very weak art, but that's certainly not the case with this series of stories.

Karen: When the issue opens, we see that Thundra and the female wrestlers from last issue are breaking into Project Pegasus. In flashback, we are told that a mysterious man made her an offer she couldn't refuse to plant a device within the Project.
However, once she and her team have placed the device, the lady wrestlers take off deeper into the complex, stating they have other orders!

Doug: Assembling those gals for the mission was sort of like a Dirty Dozen, wrasslin' style! Thundra would definitely be an example of all brawn/no brains, wouldn't she?

Karen: We get a quiet interlude with Ben visiting the still-comatose Wundarr. Ben is feeling guilty for allowing the scientists to use Wundarr in their experiments, and tells the man-child how sorry he is, and then quickly leaves before he starts to breakdown. After Ben exits the chamber, we see Wundarr lift his head and say, "Ben, I understand."

Doug: There have been some touching moments with Ben in this story -- it's a very human look at him.
It just goes to show that anyone with talent can write any character -- sometimes we complain about certain writers not finding a character's "voice"; that just isn't the case here with scribes Macchio and Gruenwald. It looks like they've done their research, and stretched what they found just enough to make it their own.
Karen: Who should Ben run into after he leaves Wundarr but Thundra. When she refuses to come with him, the two get into another donnybrook, with Ben at a disadvantage due to to his injured arm (the one Deathlok blasted a few issues back).

Doug: I liked how Ben was startled at seeing her, but in that "Oh, crap..." way; he just knows when she shows up something stupid is going to happen. And it did.

Karen: As Ben and Thundra tangle, we pop in on Quasar and Giant-Man,
who are cleaning up after the previous issue's fight with Nuklo. An alarm goes off -the female wrestlers have been detected. Our two heroes split up to go after them, and Quasar runs into Letha and Screaming Mimi. Quasar, ever chivalrous, fires a couple of warning shots and tells the two he doesn't want to "use real force on two women." The aptly named Screaming Mimi then cuts loose with a super-powered howl that causes Quasar's vision to distort - Perez' art here is very effective in getting across the feeling of disorientation. Eventually he overcomes his concerns about hurting the two and lets loose with a blast that drops them. As a side note, Screaming Mimi would go on to become Songbird of the Thunderbolts. It's a much better look in my opinion!

Doug: I really liked the panel with Giant-Man and Quasar working. I've said I'm a sucker for characters who are giants, and the perspective in that panel adds to the awe of it.

Doug: You are spot-on in your assessment of Perez's pencils on the Screaming Mimi scene. That is just really, really well done. I could get a sense of vertigo just looking at that page! Perez's choices of camera angles really added to the speed of the battle. The panel where Quasar flies across the floor into the wall is good, too.

Karen: While Quasar is busy with those two, Giant-Man has his hands full with Titania and Poundcakes. G-M has a tough time with the two of them, getting knocked into a fiery pit, and then nearly having his arms torn out by the two, before he finally manages to knock them out.

Doug: Bill Foster has gotten about as much respect in this story as his mentor, Dr. Henry Pym!

Karen: Truer words were never spoken. What is it about giant-guys?

Karen: Meanwhile, Ben is having his own problems with a certain Femizon. I got a chuckle out of the panel where
Thundra has Ben on the floor, twisting his head, and yet proclaiming how the two are destined for each other!

Doug: Isn't that how all women behave?

Karen: Very funny sir. Ben manages to get back up and the fight continues, while Ben gives Thundra a lecture about true love. Eventually it comes to a screeching halt -with Ben caught in a scissor hold by Thundra! - when Quasar, Giant-Man, and the security team arrive with the other wrestlers securely in hand. Ben asks Thundra to come clean, but even though she feels betrayed, she has her honor and keeps silent.

Doug: Ben's line to Thundra about not being able to shine Alicia's shoes, followed immediately by "ya blasted tomboy!" was priceless. This is a really great fight scene, really well-choreographed. You could see this playing out on the silver screen in a sort-of Matrix-style battle.

Karen: Our story concludes with that scurrilous scientist, Dr. Lightner, recovering the device Thundra planted.
With it, he will have all the components he needs to make the Nth projector, which certainly sounds ominous!

Doug: I cringed when Bill Foster said "mama" to Thundra...

Karen: You noticed that too? There were a few times during this series when the writers seemed to feel the need to throw some 'jive talk' in there. I might expect that from Luke Cage, but from Bill Foster? A biophysicist? This issue was a lot of fun; once it got going it was primarily one fight after another, and yet all were entertaining. As we re-read this little saga, I'm reminded again of how well all the characters were integrated into the story. Each had their own problems that they were dealing with and got the spotlight at different times. Yet Ben is always the center of the story as a whole. This is just a very well-crafted story, and the art has been fabulous.


Karen said...

Karen here folks. I want to apologize for the fact that there are no pictures in today's post. That is entirely my fault. For whatever reason, I thought I had included pictures in this post but obviously I did not. I hope you were able to enjoy the review despite that.


Doug said...

Hey, friends --

As of 2:38 CST, we have some pretty George Perez pictures for you to ogle. Hopefully it makes our words all the more interesting!

Have a great weekend, all --


Edo Bosnar said...

No problem about the pictures. I read the review before they were posted and didn't miss 'em at all - probably because I just recently got through reading my Project Pegasus TPB (bought it at a relatively low price on Ebay a few months back), so it's all still fresh in my - esp. the Thundra scissor-hold scene. I have to thank you guys for that, by the way: these reviews you do usually make me pull this stuff off the shelf - provided that I actually have it...

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